The media magnate who reshaped cricket

Kerry Packer dies aged 68

Cricinfo staff

December 26, 2005

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Kerry Packer at the height of World Series Cricket in 1977 © The Cricketer
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Kerry Packer, the man responsible for World Series Cricket (WSC) and the explosion of the one-day game, has died in Sydney aged 68. Packer, a media mogul billionaire, was behind the damaging split from the Australian Cricket Board in 1977 in a fight over television broadcasting rights.

Packer realised that cricket was in need of an image overhaul, and crucially that while the game was generating huge amounts of cash, little of that was going to the players. It meant that recruiting around 50 of the top cricketers was relatively straightforward. While WSC only last two years, it changed the game forever, and many of the things we now take for granted - coloured clothing, day/night matches - were Packer innovations. The other knock-on was that for the first time, players were paid a decent amount. And when peace was achieved in 1979 his Channel 9 coverage led the way in broadcasting innovation.

A minute's silence was held before the start of the second day of the Australia-South Africa Test and Cricket Australia said he was one of the most "influential men in its history".

Packer, who had a kidney transplant in 2000, had a history of serious illnesses and suffered severe health problems over the past couple of years. But until then he lived life to the full, and was renowned as one of the world's largest gamblers, on occasion winning and losing millions in a day. Forbes magazine valued his wealth at $5 billion earlier this year. His interests also included mining and property.

A statement from Channel 9 said he died "peacefully at home with his family at his bedside" on Boxing Day.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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